The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted two Grad rockets aimed at the strategic port city of Ashkelon Monday, but rural areas closer to Gaza sustained a dozen attacks. A missile attack on Ashkelon could be devastating if it were to strike oil and gas storage tanks and pipelines or a huge power station, which supplies electricity to most of southern Israel.
The expensive Iron Dome system is located to protect major urban areas, and there are not enough missile batteries to cover all of the Western Negev.
One rocket exploded on a home in Netivot, and 26 people were treated for the shock they endured during the barrage.
Gaza terrorist groups were competing with each for “credit” for the latest missile barrage, significantly smaller than the bombardment on Saturday and Sunday but still unacceptable for southern Israel residents who have felt abandoned by the government and the IDF during 12 years of missile strikes.
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) took responsibility for the attacks. Israel holds Hamas responsible because of its self-imposed rule on Gaza since it ejected the rival Fatah movement from control in a bloody militia war five years ago.
The military establishment is mulling a response while the Air Force continues to carry out bombing missions, usually more symbolic than effective, on weapons storage sites and terrorist tunnels.
Having testing Israel’s limited response, Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials said that prepared to observe a truce "provided Israel commits to doing the same."
The spike in violence, which comes as Israel is in the middle of an election campaign, raised the specter of a broader Israeli military operation in Gaza, AFP reported.
In late December 2008, just six weeks before the last general elections, Israel launched a 22-day operation in Gaza to stamp out persistent rocket fire.